Fantasy Hockey: Players you need to add to improve in each category

Steven Psihogios
·7 min read

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, impacting the fantasy hockey outlook for a number of players.

Perhaps no player’s fantasy stock rose higher than Taylor Hall’s after he was traded from the dismal Buffalo Sabres to the Boston Bruins. Leaving a situation as tumultuous as the one Hall endured in Buffalo will only help, and considering his shooting percentage is a lowly 2.3, there’s a good chance the former Hart Trophy winner breaks out in a big way.

Hall is just one of a few players who benefitted from a trade. Below is a list of the top fantasy hockey adds by category, which includes two players who were recently dealt.

Jeff Carter should be more fantasy relevant in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
Jeff Carter should be more fantasy relevant in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

Goals: RW Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars (35% rostered on Yahoo)

With six goals over the last 14 days, Jason Robertson is tied for the third-most goals in the league during this stretch. The rookie forward has really been coming on strong for the Dallas Stars, logging valuable minutes on the team’s first line alongside Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski. Since March 1, Robertson’s 12 assists and 21 points are first among all rookies and on the season as a whole, his 27 points sit just seven behind Minnesota Wild youngster Kirill Kaprizov for first among freshmen. The 21-year-old plays three games this upcoming week, including a pair against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are tied for allowing the sixth-most goals per game in the league.

Assists: D Mike Reilly, Boston Bruins (3% rostered on Yahoo)

The Boston Bruins are dealing with a litany of injuries on the blueline, highlighted by the absences of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk. Acquiring former Senators defenseman Mike Reilly was out of necessity as much as it was about receiving a quality rearguard at a nice value. Reilly has quietly put together a very good season on a weak Sens team, as his 19 assists are tied for 19th among all defensemen in the NHL this season. Considering the list of injured players, it wouldn’t be shocking if Reilly was immediately placed onto the Bruins’ top power-play unit in favor of Steven Kampfer, who got a look there in the team’s 8-1 defeat to the Washington Capitals on Sunday. This move is a positive development for his fantasy value.

Plus-minus: C/LW Jeff Carter, Pittsburgh Penguins (11% rostered on Yahoo)

The Pittsburgh Penguins dipped their toes into the trade frenzy on Sunday night by acquiring veteran forward Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings. Carter, 36, is no longer the 25-plus goal guy he once was, but on a depleted Penguins squad, there should be an opportunity for him to receive top-six minutes in the interim. Pittsburgh is a nice team to target this week on the waiver wire if your fantasy team needs a plus-minus boost as the squad plays three games, including a pair of contests against the trade-ravaged Buffalo Sabres.

Power-play points: D Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild (41% rostered on Yahoo)

Over the last 14 days, Jared Spurgeon’s five power-play points are the most of any defenseman in the NHL. The three power-play assists he recorded against the Colorado Avalanche have fuelled his total, but the Minnesota Wild’s power play has been clicking at a league-best 42.9 percent since the calendar turned to April. Additionally, Spurgeon has been an excellent source of blocked shots as his 74 blocks are tied for 19th among all players. With four games on the schedule this week, Spurgeon and the red-hot Wild power play will have some chances to convert.

Shots on goal: C/LW Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils (38% rostered on Yahoo)

The departure of veterans Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the New York Islanders along with the continued absence of Nico Hischier has really placed a heightened responsibility on 19-year-old Jack Hughes. The youngster has handled himself well lately, registering two goals and four points over his last three games, and over the last 14 days, his 23 shots on goal are tied for 27th in the NHL. Hughes should continue to see high-shot volumes this week as the New Jersey Devils have four games scheduled against the New York Rangers, who’ve allowed the 10th-most shots per game in the league this season.

Faceoff wins: C Joel Eriksson Ek, Minnesota Wild (27% rostered on Yahoo)

The underlying numbers continue to suggest that Joel Eriksson Ek is one of the best forwards on the Minnesota Wild. On the season, the 24-year-old ranks second on the team in individual expected goals for per 60 and first in high-danger chances per 60, according to Natural Stat Trick. A very solid two-way center, Eriksson Ek should certainly receive some consideration for the Frank J. Selke Trophy. In fantasy hockey, the 2015 first-round pick has been putting up some respectable totals at the draw, as his 52 faceoff wins over the last two weeks are tied for 32nd in the NHL. The Wild play four games this week, so he’ll definitely be able to help fantasy managers looking to better their faceoff game.

Hits: D Mario Ferraro, San Jose Sharks (13% rostered on Yahoo)

Considering what he brings to the table, Mario Ferraro remains an underappreciated player in fantasy hockey. Sure, the point (one goal and 11 assists) and shot totals (49 shots) aren’t impressive, but this guy continues to bring it defensively and he hasn’t been a plus-minus burden on fantasy managers recently. Over the last 14 days, Ferraro’s posted a very strong 25 hits, 12 blocks and a plus-three rating. He’s found a nice home playing alongside Brent Burns on the San Jose Sharks’ top defensive pairing, and those kind of minutes will continue to fuel his defensive category dominance. The Sharks play four games this week, so there’ll be lots of bodies to hit and plenty of pucks to block.

Blocked shots: D Jamie Oleksiak, Dallas Stars (9% rostered on Yahoo)

Jamie Oleksiak has been putting in work on the back end for the Dallas Stars. Over the last 14 days, his combined 58 blocks and hits are far and away first in the NHL, sitting sizeably ahead of second-placed Rasmus Ristolainen, who has 46. The 6-foot-7, 255-pound defenseman is not going to wow anyone with his offensive abilities as he’s a meat and potatoes type of player who will offer fantasy managers really solid defensive category production. The 2011 first-round pick has three games scheduled this week.

Goaltending: G Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens (33% rostered on Yahoo)

Last week wasn’t great for Jake Allen as he allowed three goals or more in each of his three outings. In his defense, the Montreal Canadiens offense didn’t do much to help him out, as the team scored just four goals during this stretch and were even shut out on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets. Still, on the year Allen has posted a better save percentage (.912 to .903), goals-against-average (2.53 to 2.66) and save percentage above expected (0.008 to -0.001) than Carey Price. With an easier schedule on the horizon, the hope is Allen can churn out some wins. The Habs have a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a pair of contests against the Calgary Flames, and a date with the Ottawa Senators this upcoming week. With Price still nursing a lower-body injury, Allen will continue to function as the starter.

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